Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Gherkins and Pickles

picklesGherkins vs Pickles

A gherkin is a fruit that has similar constituents to a cucumber in terms of nutritional content. Mainly in North America, gherkins refer to the young cucumber that is pickled, usually measuring about 1-3 inches long. The word is derived from the Dutch word ‘gurkkiin’, while ‘pickel’ is the Dutch word for pickle. Both cucumbers and gherkins belong to same ‘cucumis sativus’, but are from different cultivar groups.

Gherkins are usually picked when they have grown to a length of 3 inches. They will then be pickled in cans containing vinegar or brine. In North America, a pickle, or pickled cucumber, is one that has been left to ferment in brine or vinegar for a given length of time. Pickles can also be made through the process of souring by lacto-fermentation. Typically, young cucumbers are immersed in a jar, or any ceramic vessel, filled with boiled water that has been cooled, and covered with a non air-tight lid, or cloth that is fastened with a rubber band. Spices may be added, and then the contents are stored for several days or weeks depending on temperature or taste. For a stronger and more sour taste, more salt may be added. Cucumbers pickled with vinegar can be kept longer than those pickled with water.

The burr gherkin is typically picked at 1.5 inches at most, because if it grows larger than that, it will form a bitter, unpleasant taste. This West Indian gherkin was introduced to the West Indies from its native area, West Africa. Even though gherkins are generally more crispy than dill pickles, some people find that adding horseradish to the West Indian gherkin increases its crispness.

Gherkins, as well as pickling cucumbers, are generally taken as condiment vegetables. Basically, these are used to make condiments that usually accompany main dishes, and are not eaten for nourishment, but rather just for flavor. Many sauces, mustards, relishes and pickles are considered as condiments. Mostly, gherkins are eaten with burgers.

Gherkins can be made sweeter by adding some sugar to the vinegar or brine. Although, Dill pickles (flavored with dill stems) are typically sour. Herbs, such as rosemary, tarragon and sometimes mustard seeds, may be used to flavor gherkins.

1. Gherkins are a smaller kind of cucumber that have been pickled, while pickles are cucumbers that have been pickled in brine or vinegar.

2. Gherkins are pickles, whereas pickles are not gherkins, they may just be pickling cucumbers.

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  1. actually, gherkin is derived from the dutch augurken (plural of augurk) and pickle is derived from the word “pekel” which is dutch for brine

  2. The Etymology is wrong. Gherkin comes from the Polish Ogórek (similar Baltic words) which Dutch traders (probably from Gdansk) took westward and introduced the staple to Western Europe and later America.

  3. Looking to buy gherkins (not sweet). Cannot find in major Central NJ supermarkets. Brand doesn’t matter.

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